A step-by-step guide on how to get into the film industry

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 January 2023

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

While the film industry offers many opportunities, getting started can be difficult and very demanding. Level of experience, past training, individual interest and connections are major considerations in the employment process. Knowing how to launch your career in the film industry can help you create a unique curriculum vitae and portfolio to attract producers and casting directors. In this article, we provide the steps you may want to take if you want to get into the film industry, explain the benefits of working with filmmaking and some of the common areas of work in the industry.

How to get into the film industry

Gaining and developing relevant skills, experience, and good networking with people in this field summarises how to get into the film industry for your desired position. Below are a few steps you can take to prepare yourself for a career in the film industry:

1. Attend film school or get a bachelor's degree

Many people with the ambition of becoming filmmakers attend film schools. There's a good reason for that: film schools help you polish your skills and craft, whilst building an important network in the industry.

Similarly, going to a university helps you explore various aspects of filmmaking, which may help you choose a path that best suits you. Some higher institutions have courses that can help you build your portfolio, production skills as a student and professional equipment, which can you help develop a fascinating CV and secure a job in the film industry.

Related: What qualifications do you need to be a director in film?

2. Organise your curriculum vitae (CV)

When applying for jobs to get into the film industry, you need to show potential employers why you are well qualified. Consider the following when drafting your CV:

  • Choose a format and make sure it's legible enough

  • Add your contact information

  • Write a brief summary of your professional experiences

  • If you're an actor, list your acting credits

  • Include your education and training

  • Add a list of your relevant professional skills

  • Add any relevant awards you've received for acting

  • Proofread for errors and make sure it's easily understandable

  • Make sure you save your CV in the format requested in the job listing

  • Update your CV regularly

Related: How to create a film crew no experience CV (plus example)

3. Compile your portfolio

Make sure to attach work samples related to the role for which you're applying in the film industry. An attractive portfolio typically includes the following:

A reel

Your reel is a compilation of your film samples. They usually display the skills you've acquired through training. If you wish to apply for different roles, for example, as an actor and a scriptwriter, make sure to create reels specific to each role.

Related: Film shot types for filmmakers to explore

A professional website

Having a website helps you get noticed and leaves an excellent first impression on hiring managers. Your website may contain an updated version of your CV, your portfolio and links to your profiles on relevant social media platforms. You can also upload videos and samples of your previous jobs, for example, short independent videos you filmed, movies or excerpts of your scripts.

Related: What is a portfolio? Tips and guidelines to create one

4. Get to know different roles in the industry

During the early stages of your career, you may find yourself working in a department different from the main area of interest. Here are some tips to help you get into the film industry and succeed in different roles:

  • Search for filmmakers in your area. A local film production office can help you locate film shootings close to you. You can offer to work in any department available to gain the needed experience.

  • Get involved in local productions. Local productions, such as local theatre, student films and local television, can help build your skills whilst gaining more experience and networking. All of this can help boost your CV and make it unique to potential employers.

  • Look for job vacancies in popular production hubs. You may want to apply for different roles besides your main area of interest, as they may give you the skills, connections and experience to progress in the industry.

  • Contact local equipment rental shops. If you're more interested in joining a film crew, you can become an apprentice at a local film production rental shop. This may help you gain invaluable experience without having to work directly on a production site and is another excellent opportunity to widen your professional circle and boost your CV.

Related:

  • What are film apprenticeships? (And how to find one)

  • Discover what being a production assistant entails

5. Grow your network

In the film industry, something consistently emphasised the importance of good relationships and networking. The reason for this is that producing a film requires a collaborative effort. The content creation of a single film is a product of communication and agreement among many individuals. Meeting and having productive conversations with professionals in this field may help you progress. Below are a few ways to widen your network circle:

  • Follow industry professionals on social media platforms. This may give you insight into what they're working on and if they're hiring.

  • Attend film festivals. Some cities hold annual film festivals. This is a chance to meet with professionals and can help you start a productive conversation with colleagues and potential employers.

  • Go to conventions and events. This is another excellent opportunity to learn from the experiences of renowned professionals. You can meet with them at the end of the event to develop a personal relationship.

  • Keep in touch with your contacts. You can never tell who could help you have a breakthrough in your career. Keep in touch with friends, teachers, colleagues and classmates. They could contact you when they find a particular job opportunity that they think you can handle.

Related: 9 types of networking opportunities and their importance

Benefits of working in the film industry

Below are a few of the many ways getting into the film industry can be of interest:

  • It helps your creativity flourish. This industry allows you to be original. You get the chance to express yourself, live out your talent and prosecute your long-term ideas, for example, by writing scripts or taking on roles.

  • It allows you to meet new people with similar interests. The film industry is a highly social field of work that requires you to meet many people who share the same dreams and ambitions. By so doing, you get the chance to have conversations and network with an array of like-minded people, which could be exciting and helpful to your career in the long run.

  • It gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge with others. Whether through the scripts you write or the characters you portray, you can share information and culture whilst entertaining your viewers. Working in the film industry is another way to help bring about positive change to your community and society as a whole.

  • It's a non-traditional career path. Going to university can be helpful in your career in the film industry, but it's not a requirement. You may be hired as long as you have the skills and experience necessary to perform the job.

Related:

  • 11 art careers to explore (with salaries)

  • 14 examples of creative careers (with salaries and duties)

Common areas in the film industry

There are several areas in which you can get into the film industry. They include:

  • Acting: Actors portray the story and narrative of characters in films. Casting managers usually hold an audition for actors to know if they are well qualified for the role.

  • Assistance roles: Production assistants perform various work. For example, their duties may include handling catering, performing data entry, managing phone calls and managing travels plans.

  • Producing: Producers handle the commercial aspects of filmmaking. Their functions include financial planning and sourcing, project planning, script sourcing and purchasing.

  • Filming: Camera operators help capture and record camera footage under the directors' instructions.

  • Directing: Directors are responsible for overseeing and coordinating the whole film production process. The director distributes parts among actors, passes instructions on the set and works with video editors to produce the final version of a film during post-production.

  • Casting: Casting managers, also known as casting directors, source talent and select actors for film productions.

  • Costume designing: Costume designers help to choose the best outfits for different actors in different plots.

  • Video editing: Video editors help to edit videos in post-production. They help to transform and combine different raw film footage into final, presentable and marketable forms. Video editors also help create trailers to promote the film.

  • Photography: Sometimes called cinematographers, the director of photography are in charge of explaining to camera operators where to place cameras, light and props to best capture the scene.

Related: What does a costume designer do? (Job duties and skills)

Explore more articles